Shifting my Personal Power

x-posted from Solutionaries.

When I got back from Northern Plains Powershift this weekend, I was positively stewing with thoughts about activism. Between school, work, and SPROUT, my work for Grand Aspirations has been competing with many different facets of my life. This semester I’ve felt myself to be stretched thin. (To quote Lord of the Rings: “Like butter scraped over too much bread.”) A little too thin.

Hearing stories about the tar sands, Kandi Mossett’s personal experiences with environmental injustices, and recognizing that Congress has set a pace of climate legislation at a crawl, I came back questioning my role in everything.

Fact of the matter: I have stopped thinking of the climate movement as something that I will participate in as a facet of my life, but rather it is an urgency that must be felt in every aspect of my life.

This movement is bigger than me. It is bigger than any one individual person, but it is made up of so many creative, dynamic, and dedicated voices. It is the struggle for our planet, a challenge we can’t back down from, a battle we can’t lose.

When I first came back from the conference, I felt so small. How can spending all of my energy on starting a new organization be the best use of my power? Would it not be better to hook up with an already established, already working group and make sure that my personal power is being utilized in the most efficient way possible?

Maybe. I don’t have that answer for myself yet. But the fact of the matter is that, while we may push Congress to pass dramatic Climate legislation, the solutions to our big problems will be solved in individual communities. That is the distinct power of the Solutionary model: we can start these programs as examples for congresspeople, to give them the framework that we are dedicated. These things can happen without government subsidies. Would government funding help? Of course. Can we do it without the government? Of course.

I’m not advocating for breaking the law. I’m not advocating for a separation of the movement from congressional power. What I am saying is that these solutions can come from the grassroots. In fact, that’s where most of the action is. So in working to start an organization that gives power to the grassroots and actively seeks community partnerships and starts community initiatives, we are using our power effectively.

I’m on the Media/Communications working group. We’re working hard on workshop development, getting a logo, and talking about ways to make our web interface the most effective that it can be. I have realized, post-powershift, that without this work, without that community interface, it will be extremely difficult to be taken seriously by community members and local officials to build the movement. It is all connected.

Maybe I just really need to dig my hands into some community projects next semester. Cooperative Energy Futures? ARISE? Something else awesome in the Twin Cities? Who knows.

Working wth Grand Aspirations has made me a very different sort of person than I was before. And you know what? I rather like who I am now.